Press Release: Town Becomes First Investor in Downtown Redevelopment Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2015
Town Becomes First Investor in Major Downtown Redevelopment Project

BENNINGTON, VERMONT (June 30, 2015) – On Monday, June 29, 2015, the Bennington Select Board voted unanimously to become the first public investor in the redevelopment of the former Bennington High School Building. The Town will make a sum of up to $18,000 available from its Economic Development Fund with contingencies. This initial investment will help fund the first phase of a development plan required to move the project into construction.

The capital contribution provided by the municipality will come from a newly formed economic development fund that was created with the goal of spurring large-scale development in Bennington. According to Thomas Jacobs, chair of the Bennington Select Board, the fund is being used exactly the way it was intended. “While our economic development fund is modest in size, we believe that this capital can be utilized in an intelligent way that will encourage big idea type thinking… We’re excited to be able to play a role in this revitalization effort,” said Jacobs.

The historic building located at 650 Main Street was originally built in 1913, but has been vacant for more than 10 years. It is currently owned by an individual who lives in Toronto, Canada. In early 2014, local developer, Jon Hale, came forward with an interest in redeveloping the 104,000 sq ft. property into market-rate apartments and condominiums. Hale, who has been the property manager for the facility since 2012, and one of Bennington’s leading developers, believes the property has massive potential. “I’ve been taking care of this property for years. I know every nook and cranny and I know what it’s going to take to bring it back to life.” Hale shared.

As anticipated, the entire development plan will consist of a feasibility study, market analysis, financing options, preliminary legal work, and marketing, along with complete engineering and architectural plans. The first phase of the development plan, with a cost of approximately $18,000, will be co-owned by the municipality and the developer, and will provide both parties with a feasibility study, market analysis, recommendations for use, and funding options analysis. The second phase, which will be predicated on the findings from the initial phase, will dig deeper into the project and site specifics. Funding for the second phase will be considered after the initial phase is complete. “The ability for us to structure our participation this way ensures that if the developer chooses not to move forward with the project, that the municipality can use the data collected to seek out other potential parties.” explained Bennington’s Economic and Community Development Director Michael Harrington.

According to Hale, construction could begin as early as Spring 2016 but that would depend on the outcome of this preliminary work and completion of the second phase of the development plan. That said, Hale remains optimistic about the project, seeing the development plan as a necessary tool for ensuring a successful outcome.
The Town, and Hale, will continue to work closely together on the proposed project and it is expected that status reports will be shared publicly as the project moves forward.

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For more information contact:
Michael Harrington
Economic and Community Development Director
802-442-1037
mharrington@benningtonvt.org